As the 2019-2020 English Premier League inches closer to completion, Liverpool F.C. have all but secured their first league title since its inception in 1992. While this season will go down in history on the back of their UEFA Champions League victory last year, it remains to be seen how historic it will be. Here are the current five greatest winning seasons of the EPL.
5: Blackburn Rovers 1994-1995
With their lone title coming in the league’s third season, Blackburn Rovers fans will consider the team’s greatest ever. Although they have since seen the team relegated to the Championship, the second division, Blackburn was once one of the top contenders in the EPL. Their first top division title from 1913-1914, this was certainly a memorable EPL season.
After finishing as runners-up in the previous season, Blackburn secured their title on the final day of the league as Manchester United failed to win, resulting in Blackburn beating them out by a single point. Spearheaded by Alan Shearer’s league-leading 34 goals, Blackburn’s squad didn’t have the enduring names of other EPL winning teams. Yet they will remain one of the few teams to ever hoist the trophy.
Despite struggling to remain one of the top contenders in future seasons, Blackburn managed to become the second-ever EPL Champion, and one of only six in the league’s history. The tight race to the finish, proving that anyone could win it, was a promising sign of what the EPL could offer. Some may say the team overachieved, especially when you consider what their future became, but this was a well-earned victory.
4: Manchester City 2018-2019
Although less special than Blackburn’s lone title, Manchester City’s fourth EPL title was unique in many ways. Not only had they won the previous season, but the lead went down to the final day to be secured. There is an argument that their 2011-2012 final-day heroics were more dramatic, but the 2018-2019 season was a constant battle between themselves and Liverpool F.C.
With Liverpool holding the first place spot at the start of 2019, Manchester City was able to close the gap. The two were constantly putting pressure on the other to stay in the race. What resulted was the second and third highest ever points totals in the EPL – 98 and 97 points, respectively.
Although Manchester City won the EPL, Liverpool won the UEFA Champions League, stealing some of their rivals’ glory. Nothing could separate the two – Liverpool lost just a single game, but their seven draws cost them too many points. Manchester City would say their 2017-2018 title was more dominant and set the points record with 100, but fending off the best team in Europe all season long is a more impressive achievement. And with Liverpool looking likely to win it in 2020, that makes the 2019 success even sweeter.
3: Leicester City 2015-2016
Akin to Blackburn’s title, Leicester City managed to win a single league title in 2015-2016, and briefly in the 2019-2020 season looked as though they would make it a three-horse race. There is little separating the Leicester victory from Blackburn’s, except Leicester have continued to be competitive with the top teams in the years since. And of course, the fact that it is Leicester’s lone title in the club’s history.
There was little attention given to Leicester as title contenders, as the previous season they had finished 14th. But by halfway through, they were silencing many critics. The season resulted in a lead of 10 points, as well as Jamie Vardy setting a record for consecutive games with a goal. Future Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez was the first African player to become the PFA Player’s Player of the Year, and several players made names for themselves, including N’Golo Kante, Kasper Schmeichel, and Andrej Kramaric.
Perhaps what makes Leicester’s season more magical is the other sporting champions of 2016. The Chicago Cubs won the MLB, ending a 108-year streak, while LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the team’s first-ever title as well. The combination of all of these together enhanced Leicester’s narrative. The unlikelihood of Leicester City winning the EPL is what makes this season one of the best ever, just edging out both Manchester City’s and Blackburn Rovers’.
2: Arsenal F.C. 2003-2004
Known as the ‘Invincibles,’ the Arsenal F.C. team of 2003-2004 did not lose a single game on their way to winning the EPL title. The first club to achieve this feat in over a century, it was their third in the EPL and thirteenth overall in the first division. It fell in a period of dominance for the club, as in addition to their league titles, they won the FA Cup three times in four years – just not the year they won the league.
Featuring many legendary players, Arsenal set a new standard of excellence in the EPL. Finishing with 90 points, the squad boasted the likes of Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Viera, Ashley Cole, Gilberto Silva, and Freddie Ljungberg. Amongst the squad, was also Cesc Fabregas, although he did not appear in any league games that season. In total, there were 5 players who won a FIFA World Cup during their careers.
While Liverpool nearly managed the feat in the 2018-2019 season, and are closing in on it again in 2019-2020, Arsenal will still boast a rare feat. Symbolizing their dominance in the EPL through the late 1990s until the mid-2010s, including as runners-up to Leicester in 2015-2016, the Invincibles are era-defining. With an instantly recognizable nickname too, it is undoubtedly one of the most historic seasons ever.
1: Manchester United 1998-1999
There is no team more synonymous with EPL success than Manchester United. Despite not having the same dominance in recent years, the club has 13 EPL titles, accounting for almost half since 1992. Although there were many contenders for their best ever, 1998-1999 stands above the rest.
Winning the UEFA Champions League, FA Cup, and EPL in that season, Manchester United became the first English club to ever win the ‘treble.’ Featuring prominently the famed, ‘Class of ’92,’ of David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, and Phil Neville, the season also earned Manager Sir Alex Ferguson a knighthood. Beckham was runner up for the Ballon D’Or and FIFA World Player of the Year that season too. In addition to these big names are several other notable individuals, such as Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Andy Cole (EPL Golden Boot 1993-1994), Teddy Sheringham (EPL Golden Boot 1992-1993), Dwight Yorke (joint EPL Golden Boot 1998-1999), Peter Schmeichel (father of future EPL-winning Leicester GK Kasper Schmeichel), alongside current manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The names and feats speak for themselves. Selecting just one Manchester United season was tough, and they could have easily had another in the top 5. But the 1998-1999 season is in a league of its own.